Why We Created DigMe

Midtown Manhattan and Central Park, New York City

#DigMe15: June 10-11, 2015,  Affinia Manhattan Hotel, NYC


 

Over the 15 years we’ve been producing eTourism Summit, we’ve observed evolutionary shifts in online marketing for the travel industry.  Critically, budget dedicated to digital marketing among attendees has crept up from zero to an average of around 40 percent. Meantime, organic engagement for SEO and social is plummeting down through the single digits.

Modern Maturity

Google, Facebook and other platforms have business models that built a critical mass base of users before lowering the boom by requiring us to pay to reach the same audience we previously reached for free. As each platform matures, an entire subset of new services offering sophisticated analytics, data tools as well as a slew of digital media providing measurement in granular detail try to enter the travel B2B marketplace.

It’s Complicated

What began as simple pay-to-play ad forms such as PPC search, banner ads and boosted posts, now includes video marketing, intent marketing, contextual marketing, data-driven marketing, aggregators and multiple forms of native advertising. They’re all sold by a bewildering number of “networks” claiming to have the best audience methodology for targeting travelers in various stages of the sales funnel. 

Many new platforms use an auction format enabling marketers to bid against one another to target various audiences. This looks like a mix of public exchanges, mobile advertising, private exchanges, attribution technology and trading desks, essentially algorithm-controlled robots. Together, all this has given rise to what is now called “Marketing Science” — which is programmatic buying, retargeting and ever more granular measurement that adjusts in real time. 

Traditional Agencies Losing Business to Specialists

Four industries with the highest online sales are travel, finance, automotive and retail. However, marketing travel stands alone, since it’s the purchase of an experience, not a product.

As performance-based marketing has grown, “traditional” agencies have lost their importance, especially in digital marketing, as they focus on the branding, campaign creation and buying media from existing sources with whom they already have relationships.  An ad agency media buyer, which is often an entry level position, can be tasked as gatekeeper of the media budget, but has very little knowledge of what works within the travel vertical and why. Their media buys often result in increased website traffic but the bounce rates can be 2-3X normal. 

In the last several months, scores of new companies have been knocking on the doors of travel marketers and their agencies, who for the most part, have neither the time nor the contextual understanding to evaluate them and their promises effectively.

Connecting the Dots

Our vision for DigMe is: A one-stop venue where travel marketers bring their agencies to get updates on the most important pay-to-play providers, as well as to evaluate new innovative technology and tools that will help them to “Spend Smarter.”

At the Heart of the Matter

While eTourism Summit draws on San Francisco’s energy as the epicenter of innovation, its DigMe spinoff puts roots down in New York City, at the hub of the world’s media ecosystem. There’s nothing else remotely like DigMe; it’s designed specifically for digital travel buying professionals. 

DigMe Format:

Day 1:

A full day of 15-20 minute presentations to provide updates from a well-curated group of digital marketing thought leaders and executives.

Day 2:

A deeper dive through concurrent sessions:

   Room A: Speed Dating for Information:  Attendees take 10-minute one-on-one appointments with digital media companies and qualified experts. 

   Room B: Rotating Round Tables: These are built around top specific pain point topics identified by delegates. 

Who Should Be There?

+ Independent hotel companies and their agencies
+ Attractions and their agencies
+ In-destination service companies and their agencies
+ Local sightseeing companies and their agencies
+ Dining and theater booking companies and their agencies
+ Cruise lines and their agencies
+ Destination marketing organizations and their agencies

 

Photo credit: Andrew Mace, flickr CC 2.0 license

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